Evangelism is spreading the good news of Jesus Christ. It is introducing people to Jesus and telling them of his salvation. Evangelism is also reaching out to the struggling who are in Christ but slipping away. In the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) Jesus commanded that we make disciples, teach and baptize and teach them again. Work remains after baptism to fully include the new Christian in the body of Christ. To be clear, that new Christian is every bit the elect as the one baptized years before, but it still remains for the local congregation to insure their inclusion into the work of the church.
Original Christianity took to heart the need for a new community of believers in which all were equal. Acts 2:42-47 demonstrates the inclusionary work of the Christians.
Devoted to One Another
The first Christians are devoted to spiritual things. This is the first item listed for without the foundation of faith, no community exists. These believers put their spiritual efforts first and sought to learn and to practice their faith together.
All Were Together
These brethren are family. Like any family, they are together with one another. Churches today try to encourage this sense of belonging through fellowships and get-togethers. However togetherness does not need to always be a planned event. Just as a family today may come together for a reunion or some special birthday, families also assemble piecemeal sometimes. It is not necessary that the full group always come together.
Sharing With All
This may be the most challenging part of the original Christian example. The Bible tells us these people “had all things in common,” and “they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need” (Acts 2:45). The ideal here lacks any suggestion of materialism or covetousness on the part of any. Brothers and sisters in the family did what was necessary in order to care for one another. Both spiritual and physical needs were addressed. It would seem that this was done without any organized effort but through the response of each new Christian.
The result of this kind of work is obvious. The church enjoyed favor with all people (vs. 47). Be assured that when similar efforts occur today, there are similar results. Dying congregations today will be resuscitated when they return to these simple steps of caring and providing for all.
Cliques kill communities. Notice that the original pattern seen here appears to be free of segregated social circles or cliques. Later, cliques would appear in the congregation at Corinth (1 Corinthians 1:10-17). These brethren had reached the point of quarreling among themselves. They circled around noted figures in the church and excluded others. This division was wrong. The same is true today.
We must learn from the successes of the apostle led churches of the First Century. Let us do our utmost to include all brethren.
Bryant Evans may be reached at bryant at bryantevans.com. You can follow Bryant on Twitter @jbevans.